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Latest blog from Rural Action Derbyshire: by Joe Dugdale
Revd Alan Griggs is our Agricultural Chaplain, an ordained minister in the Church of England.
Revd Professor Stella Mills is a volunteer chaplain on the project and works closely with Alan.
The project is managed by RAD and Work Place Chaplaincy Derbyshire with funding from the Methodist Church.
The work has largely been active in the more rural and isolated areas of the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales. However, thanks to funding from the Methodist Church the project is now available to the farming community throughout Derbyshire.
Life as a farmer has become increasingly isolating. Not only are some of the farms themselves geographically isolated, but there are fewer people working with some farmers being the sole worker. In the north of the county livestock farming is the only option as the ground is no suitable for growing crops. It's a 24/7 way of life caring for the livestock, land, buildings and equipment to make sure everything is operating as it should and animal welfare is obviously high up the list of priorities. It takes only one thing to go wrong for potentially serious implications to take effect.
TB testing in cattle is an anxious time and very labour intensive. A negative result can have a devastating impact. Illness in the family can create significant problems. Financial difficulties can lead to stress and even the loss of the farm itself if not dealt with appropriately.
Farmers don't tend to have professional networks, they are generally private people who get on with the job.
What we do
We listen. Sometimes that's all we do, other times we can provide more practical support or referrals to other organisations such as RABI and FCN. What is important is that any member of the farming community in Derbyshire can contact our team and get some support. Alan or Stella can speak to them on the phone, visit them at their farm/home or meet up with them for a chat at the market in Bakewell. From then a plan can be agreed as to what the next step is.